P4.6-B used for anti-flood projects in Pampanga

    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The P105-million calamity fund released to the Depart-ment of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for former Pres. Arroyo’s home district is only a pittance compared to the P4.6 billion cost of anti-flooding projects whose implementation started in 2008 in this province.

    Tokwing Joint Ventures, a contractor for one project costing P491-million, was recently identified by Public Works Sec. Rogelio Singson as among which had cornered most of the projects from calamity fund under the Arroyo administration.

    A report presented by the Mt. Pinatubo Engineering-Project Management Office (MPE-PMO) to the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PampCham) indicated that  the projects costing P4.6-billion are a component of engineering interventions against Mt. Pinatubo’s lahar flows and floods laid out way back in 1996.

    None of the projects were among the 19 that was ordered suspended in various parts of the country by Public Works Sec. Rogelio Singson.

    The report referred to the projects as Pinatubo Hazard Urgent Mitigation Projects or PHUMP with three phases. Phase 1 cost P2.5 billion and covered projects implemented from 1996 to 2001 at the Sacobia-Bamban River, which used to be an active lahar channel from Mt. Pinatubo between Pampanga and Tarlac.

    Phase 2, costing P4.5 billion, covered the Pasig-Potrero river and a proposed “third river” affecting Pampanga supposed to be implemented from 1999 to 2006. The third river, however, has not been fully implemented.

    Phase 3, costing P4.6 billion, has six “contract packages” covering projects, again at the Pasig-Potrero and the Porac-Gumain river basins. These rivers, particularly the Porac-Gumain, affects former Pres. Arroyo’s Lubao hometown in the second district of Pampanga. This phase started in 2008 and slated for completion in 2015.

    The DPWH report said that funds for these projects were either derived or are expected to be derived from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and had nothing to do with the six special allotment release orders (SARO) given to the second engineering district of the DPWH for roads and flood control projects in six towns in Pampanga’s second district.

    The SARO’s, all dated last May 20, showed that P20 million allocation for Lubao; P15 million for Porac; P20 million for Guagua; P20 million for Floridablanca; P15 million for Sta. Rita; and P15 million for Sasmuan. Mrs. Arroyo won overwhelmingly in congressional race in these towns comprising the second district.

    Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said earlier that since no bidding had been done or contracts awarded on projects using these funds, the allocations could be recalled and used for projects that were badly needed.

    In his first State of the Nation Address, Pres. Aquino accused the Arroyo administration of squandering the government financial resources.

    He noted that Mrs. Arroyo had set aside a P2-billion national calamity fund for this year, of which P1.4 billion had already been spent. Pampanga received P108 million, of which P105 million went to Arroyo’s district during the election month, he added.

    In a meeting of PamCham recently, one of the contractors under Package 3 of PHUMP Phase 3 came under fire after MPE-PMO project manager Philip Menez reported the contractor has failed to finish its project that could ease flooding in the capitol town of San Fernando, Pampanga.

    The project assigned to RD Policarpio covers rehabilitating some 5.26 kilometers of the San Fernando river so as to allow the free flow of floodwaters in the city. The project cost some P169 million.

    Menez said contractor RD Policarpio Construction is the “only problematic contractor” assigned to Phase 3. He noted that China Water International Corp. is on schedule in its work at the Porac-Gumain River diversion channel (P1.5 billion), the Tokwing Joint Venture in the construction of outlets and bridges at the San Fernando river (P491 million), and LRT Construction  in flood mitigation works in Guagua town (P183 million).


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